That’s the million-dollar question that I feel every person who has ever suffered some type of trauma, asks themselves. Whether it’s childhood sexual abuse, domestic abuse, physical abuse, PTSD from any of those or other causes, we all just want to heal. Day in and day out we fight through poor self-esteem, labels, flashbacks, eating disorders, depression, anxiety, and the like.
I’ve asked myself this question more times than I can count, “Will I ever really heal from my trauma?”
I think the answer to that question depends on what your definition of what “healing” is.
If you look at the physical wounds, our body has the miraculous capability of healing and leaving no visible signs that any trauma ever took place. Of course there are sometimes scars that are left, which serve as a reminder of what happened. I have a scar on my right knee from when I was younger and slid on some gravel on the playground and tore my knee up pretty good. It’s diminished over the years but it is slightly there still. I also have one on my left index finger from when I tried my hand at selling kitchen cutlery, back in the day.
After a demonstration in a potential customer’s home when I damn near sliced my finger off, I realized that wasn’t for me. I can still remember turning white as a ghost and feeling sick, and they didn’t even buy anything that day!
The point is from the physical sense, whether it’s an accident or purposeful physical abuse, our bodies can heal internally and externally. We can have the capability to go about our lives and live as we choose.
Emotional healing; is it possible to “fully heal”? Again this all depends on your point of view of what you define “being healed” as. I struggle with this at times because based on my research, interaction with others, and my own self-evaluation, trauma is always with us. The effects of PTSD may never fully dissipate from our lives*. They however be lessened and managed over time.
Our minds used dissociation to protect us from traumatic events. By doing this, the brain does not allow us to not be fully present at the time; it’s a defense mechanism. This does not mean that our mind forgot what happened. Rather it tucks it away until it knows we are ready to confront, process, and being able to deal with those events. The memories of those events can come in the form of flashbacks or just begin to surface by working with a professional coach or therapist.
Since I’ve started confronting my childhood sexual abuse, bullying, and narcissistic mother issues, head on, the flashbacks are a way of my mind releasing bits of information to me. The flashbacks are extremely difficult to deal with, especially early on in recovery. If you have experienced them in any capacity, you can relate I’m sure.
Again, it’s not that we forget but rather we accept what happened, and realize that while we can’t change the past, we don’t have to let it affect our future. That is Radical Acceptance and that is a big part of healing.
What about being bullied? Sure we can heal from the physical trauma, but the emotional wounds last a lot longer. As we grow up we get stronger physically and we can be stronger emotionally as well. Those kids that picked on us can’t do that anymore when we are adults. We are capable of removing ourselves from situations that aren’t healthy for us. Or, we just avoid them all together because we know they can be triggering.
Once again, our minds may have caused us to dissociate during times of being bullied but as we confront those memories we can begin to process and work through them. I would never have been able to work through the harmful effects of being physically and emotionally beaten down without the help of a professional. To that point, there is never any shame in seeking help. If anything, it makes you stronger for realizing you can’t go it alone. NEVER let anyone tell you that talking with a Professional makes you weak!
The mother wounds that I’m currently working through; I am just beginning to realize how traumatic the invalidation and lack of emotional support has affected me. Still today in my 40’s, it’s all too evident in how little I interact with her and how uncomfortable I am around her.
I have thoughts that still enter my head of, “just get over it”, “you are grown up now, move on”. I hate those thoughts; total invalidation right there folks! You don’t tell someone who suffered any type of emotional trauma to just “grow up and get over it”. There isn’t much that angers me more than that!
Having said all of that, here is my summation and answer to my own question, “Do we ever fully heal from trauma?”
It is the opinion of this survivor and that of professionals I have talked too, along other survivors, that Yes we can Heal From Trauma! Our minds can be retrained to build new pathways and new memories. We can learn to replace negative mindsets with positive ones. We can learn to handle anxiety in a more positive, self-reassuring way. We learn to create healthy boundaries and surround ourselves with positive, encouraging, supportive people. We have the ability to recover from trauma and live the life we want!
It’s not a quick and easy process, not by a long shot. The journey is difficult but the realization of no longer living a life that is dominated by our past, is worth the effort! #YouGotThis
Based on research, it’s unclear how the brain stores certain types of memories. Whether or not you actually “forget” or whether information and memories are stored deep in our minds, and inaccessible.